Does an Unemployed Parent Still Have to Pay Child Support?

dupage county child support lawyerEverybody falls on hard times now and then, and sometimes a parent finds himself or herself unemployed. Many parents wonder what happens when a parent who is required to pay child support is unemployed. Does an unemployed parent still have to pay child support? What if a parent purposely quits or takes a low-paying job to try to avoid child support? The answers to these questions depend on the reasons for unemployment, and a few other factors.

Is the Parent Voluntarily Unemployed?

Unemployment is a term that can apply to a wide range of situations. Some people find themselves unemployed because they were laid off due to cutbacks. Others choose not to work because they simply do not want to.

In some cases, a court will grant a reduced child support obligation to a parent who is unemployed. One of the major questions the court will need to answer before determining whether to modify a child support obligation is whether the unemployment is voluntary or involuntary. There is a huge difference between a parent genuinely trying to gain adequate employment and pay his or her child support obligation and a parent who chooses not to work to evade child support.

Courts do not look favorably upon parents who try to avoid their child support obligation by quitting their job or failing to look for a new job after being fired. If the court determines that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, they may use the parent’s potential income to calculate the child support obligation instead of the parent’s actual income.

Potential income is the income the parent could earn. The parent’s past employment, education level, and skillset will be used to calculate potential income.

Call Our DuPage County Family Law Attorneys for Help with Child Support Concerns

Unemployment does not necessarily mean that a parent does not have to pay child support. The court will look into the reasons for the parent’s unemployment, whether the parent is trying to find employment, and other factors. In some cases, a parent who loses his or her job may be able to reduce his or her child support obligation. However, this is not guaranteed.

If you want to modify your child support order or need to enforce an order because the other parent is not paying, contact our DuPage County child support lawyers for help. We can help you understand your options and take the next steps. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.


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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree